Many American businesses and individuals are now accepting payment in Bitcoin. This could be a variety of reasons from wanting publicity or believing in the digital currency’s inherent value.
The peer-to-peer currency was first launched five years ago, and has gotten plenty of good and bad media attention. The digital currency is getting plenty of positive responses from techies and other people who see Bitcoin as a better alternative form of payment. However, the legality of the digital currency is debatable. Government leaders and lawyers around the world rush to understand and determine what to do with the global phenomena called Bitcoin.
Even with all of this going on, people are still curious in learning more about this virtual currency and how they can use it in their day-to-day lives without fear of repercussions.
Doctors Accepting Payment in Bitcoin
Feeling sick, but you have bitcoins? Well, you are in luck. Some doctors are now accepting payment in Bitcoin for medical costs and fees. Paul Abramson, MD, a San Francisco physician has said that doctors who are accepting payment in Bitcoin find that it is simple and “unmagical.”
A former software programmer and trained electrical engineer, Abramson is the founder of My Doctor Medical Group. The privacy of transactions in Bitcoin is what made him want to learn more about the digital currency. The Bitcoin system was initially seen to be relatively anonymous which could allow patients who sought privacy to pay by “a nearly invisible form of payment.” Hence, Abramson is accepting payment in Bitcoin. The doctor has said,
“It’s important for people to be able to maintain their privacy.”
However, as Bitcoin became more accessible to users, more explanation of its anonymity showed that with a lot of probing, you can indeed uncover a user’s identity.
Abramson continues by saying,
“As I’ve learned more about it, I’m less excited about the anonymous possibility.”
Besides this factor, the patient can not be totally anonymous since the patient is unable to hide his/her identity from the doctor. So, the fact that one can uncover a Bitcoin user’s identity does not exactly matter in this case. This is because there is no anonymity between the buyer and seller in a doctor-patient relationship.
John Gomez MD, the owner and medical director of RapidMed Urgent Care Center in Lewisville, Texas is also accepting payment in Bitcoin. For him there were no startup costs because his office already had an iPad. Customers are showing interest in the digital currency, but no one has paid by Bitcoin yet.
Media Hype VS Real Benefit
Even though media is hyping up Bitcoin and is constantly reporting on the controversies of the currency, Abramson treats the currency as a normal thing. He says,
“It’s actually not that big a deal.”
Gomez on the other hand is very excited about Bitcoin and its prospects. He said,
“I am, generally speaking, an early adopter of technology. I have certain, I guess you would say politically libertarian leanings,”
There are benefits in Bitcoin that are not like other forms of payment. For one, not having to deal with credit card companies can safeguard a patient’s privacy because these companies can “legally access certain protected health information for the purposes of verifying the transactions.” In addition, Gomez says that there are,
“zero transaction fees. Zero. It’s beautiful.”
How Does the Payment Process Work?
Abramson says he uses a simple setup in order to process payments. He has a merchant account with a company that deals with bitcoins. When Abramson receives payment in Bitcoin, the company coverts the coins into U.S dollars, in return the company charges a 1% fee. This is less than the usual 2 or 3% fee that is charges by credit card companies.
Gomez on the other hand has no plans to convert the payment he gets in Bitcoin to U.S dollars. His accountant said that Gomez should “book his revenue as dollars according to the bitcoin exchange rate at the time of the transaction – and keep records for future years, when he might convert the bitcoins he received back into dollars.”
“There will be ups and downs and there will be potential manipulations. [But] in the long run, I think that it’s a smart play.”
Click for image.